I was listening to KLove today and a woman who shared her testimony said that she turned to alcohol when her life got hard. She had two kids. I can only imagine how this impacted her life. Thankfully she accepted Jesus into her life and her life got changed around. She said turning to alcohol was “the only thing I knew.” Once she discovered that there were other coping mechanisms by way of having a relationship with someone bigger than herself (God), she became healthier and her life was more fulfilling. This is one example of this perspective of “the only thing I knew,” which involves people acting and thinking based on how they grew up, who they were surrounded by, what they’ve self-taught, and how they were raised. I have to remind myself and others of this a lot when interacting with others. Another example involved talking with a high school student of mine. He was sharing how he didn’t understand why a guy he knows wears his pants down to his ankles and partakes in the activities that he does. In conversation, I said this line, “it’s the only thing he knows.” I explained that those around him, including his parent(s) must dress, act, and talk similarly. That’s where he’s picking it up from. “How can he be similar to you if he didn’t grow up alongside you?” I asked. Applying this filter has been important to me when judging others. How can I expect them to think a certain way if they were never taught it or exposed to it? (It’s a different story if they were and acted contrary.) Also, I have to be forgiving to myself when my areas for growth are a direct result of what I witnessed growing up. “It’s the only thing I know” isn’t used as an excuse, but rather a reminder that I am shaped by my upbringing and the individuals that influenced me beginning in childhood. If I don’t like a part of me that picked up that undesirable behavior or thought, I need to change it by learning new approaches.
Take a look at yourself and others. Do you think and act based on it’s “the only thing I knew?” Do you think when you apply this perspective that it helps you to be more graceful and forgiving towards others?